Paul Krill

About the Author Paul Krill


The road to Java 9: Only critical bugs getting fixed now

With the initial release candidate build for Java 9 now published, Oracle has proposed that from here on out, only “showstopper” bugs be fixed for the production Java 9 release, which is due September 21.

The proposal floated this week represents a further tightening up of bug-fixing goals for RDP (Rampdown Phase) 2 of the Java upgrade. The plan calls for fixing all P1 (Priority 1) bugs critical to the success of Java Development Kit (JDK) 9. Also, builders would decommit from fixing any bugs not new in JDK 9 and not critical to the release, even if they had been targeted for fixing.

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Ruby’s decline in popularity may be permanent

Ruby has had a reputation as a user-friendly language for building web applications. But its slippage in this month’s RedMonk Programming Language Rankings has raised questions about where exactly the language stands among developers these days.

The twice-yearly RedMonk index ranked Ruby at eighth, the lowest position ever for the language. “Swift and now Kotlin are the obvious choices for native mobile development. Go, Rust, and others are clearer modern choices for infrastructure,” said RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady. “The web, meanwhile, where Ruby really made its mark with Rails, is now an aggressively competitive and crowded field.”

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CheerpJ converts Java apps into JavaScript for the web

Melding Java and web development, CheerpJ is being readied as compiler technology that takes Java bytecode and turns it into JavaScript, for execution in browsers. Based on the LLVM/Clang compiler platform as well as Learning Technologies’ own Cheerp C++-to-JavaScript compiler, CheerpJ takes Java bytecode and turns it into JavaScript without needing the Java source.

In CheerpJ, applications and Java libraries are converted to web applications, so there is no need for plug-ins or Java installations. Server-side Java components can become client-side browser-based libraries while native Java code serves as platform-independent components for the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform.

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JVM may get upgrade to support today’s multicore processors

Oracle is proposing an update to the Java Virtual Machine to allow for direct-value class types, a modernization required by the advent of multicore processors. There is no schedule for when the changes might appear in the JVM.

The changes to the JVM specification would support a prototype of value classes—classes for which primitive-like non-reference value instances can be created and acted upon. “The proposals for value types in Java are about giving developers the alternative to give up identity and polymorphism so that the runtime can represent the underlying data in a way which is both far more compact and much better suited for processing in bulk operations,” said Georges Saab, Oracle’s vice president of software development in the Java platform group.

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What’s new in Google’s Go 1.9 language

The next version of Google’s popular Go language will improve performance, compilation, and scaling to large code bases. Go 1.9 should be released in August.

Go 1.9’s creators expect almost all Go programs to run as they did before, given the focus on maintaining compatibility in this latest release. 

Here’s what’s new and improved:

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Q&A: Hortonworks and IBM double down on Hadoop

Hortonworks and IBM recently announced an expanded partnership. The deal pairs IBM’s Data Science Experience (DSX) analytics toolkit and the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), with the goal of extending machine learning and data science tools to developers across the Hadoop ecosystem. IBM’s Big SQL, a SQL engine for Hadoop, will be leveraged as well.

InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill recently met with Hortonworks CEO Rob Bearden and IBM Analytics general manager Rob Thomas at the DataWorks Summit conference in Silicon Valley, to talk about the state of big data analytics, machine learning, and Hadoop’s standing among the expanding array of technologies available for large-scale data processing.

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Scala goes skinny: Ammonite tunes the heavyweight for simple tasks

Ammonite, an open source tool to use the Scala language for scripting, should debut in its Version 1.0 production version in next two months.

The two-year-old project lets Scala be used for small scripts. It offers an interactive REPL (read-eval-print loop) and system shell capabilities. The project also can be used as a library in existing Scala projects, via the Ammonite-Ops file system library.

“Scala has traditionally been a heavy, powerful language with heavy, powerful tools. Ammonite aims to let you use it for small, simple tasks as well,” said Ammonite developer Li Haoyi, a former engineer at Fluent Systems. The project enables Scala to vie for tasks that previously have been the domain of Python or the Bash shell for small housekeeping or automation scripts. It also can be used for file system and system administration.

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What’s new in Microsoft’s TypeScript 2.4

Version 2.4 of TypeScript, a popular, typed superset of JavaScript, will offer improved load times with the addition of a dynamic import expressions capability. A release candidate version is now available via NuGet or via NPM, using the command npm install -g typescript@rc.

New TypeScript 2.4 features include dynamic import expressions, an ECMAScript feature that allows for asynchronously loading a module at any arbitrary point in a program. The capability results in faster load times for critical content, with less JavaScript being transmitted in many common scenarios. “Projects that use bundlers like Webpack can operate on these import() calls and split code into smaller bundles that can be lazily loaded,” said Daniel Rosenwasser, Microsoft’s program manager for TypeScript.

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TypeScript 2.4 improves load times, weak type-checking

Version 2.4 of TypeScript, a popular, typed superset of JavaScript, will offer improved load times with the addition of a dynamic import expressions capability. A release candidate version is now available via NuGet or via NPM, using the command npm install -g typescript@rc.

New TypeScript 2.4 features include dynamic import expressions, an ECMAScript feature that allows for asynchronously loading a module at any arbitrary point in a program. The capability results in faster load times for critical content, with less JavaScript being transmitted in many common scenarios. “Projects that use bundlers like Webpack can operate on these import() calls and split code into smaller bundles that can be lazily loaded,” said Daniel Rosenwasser, Microsoft’s program manager for TypeScript.

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Visual Studio Code comes to Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi

A community build project led by developer Jay Rodgers is making Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s lightweight source code editor, available for Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi boards, and other devices based on 32-bit or 64-bit ARM processors.

Supporting Linux and Chrome OS as well as the DEB (Debian) and RPM package formats, the automated builds of Visual Studio Code are intended for less-common platforms that might not otherwise receive them. Obvious beneficiaries will be IoT developers focused on ARM devices—and the Raspberry Pi in particular—who will find it helpful to have the editor directly on the device they’re programming against. 

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Google adds Recaptcha API to Android to block the bots

Developers on the Android mobile platform, which has had ongoing problems with security, now have at their disposal an API intended to protect apps from malicious traffic and bots.

Google is adding a Recaptcha API to Google Play Services for Android apps. The API is included with Google SafetyNet, a set of services and APIs to protect against threats that include device tampering and potentially harmful apps.

Critical to the API is Google’s latest Recaptcha technology, which provides behind-the-scenes risk analysis and has let actual people pass through with no clicks. With Android apps updated to support the new API, mobile users can use their apps without being interrupted yet still avoid spam and abuse.

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Apple’s Xcode 9 beta previews blockbuster improvements

With Xcode 9, a forthcoming upgrade to Apple’s integrated development environment for building apps for MacOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS, Apple is introducing a new source editor, a new build system, and compatibility with the Swift 4 language. A beta version of Xcode 9 was made available earlier this week. 

The latest version of Xcode brings a host of other improvements as well, in areas ranging from debugging, refactoring, and GPU support to a snappier find and replace capability. The new editor also offers faster scrolling for any-sized file and easier access to common tasks, Apple said. A new source control navigator is featured for viewing branches, tags, and remote repositories for a workspace.

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Apple’s WebKit joins the WebAssembly bandwagon

Momentum continues to build for the WebAssembly binary format. WebKit, Apple’s open source browser engine used in Safari, now has a full implementation of WebAssembly.

The implementation supports WebAssembly on Intel x86-64 and ARM64 processors. Calling WebAsembly a “no-nonsense sidekick to JavaScript,” Apple’s Saam Barati and two colleagues, JF Bastien and Keith Miller, described WebAssembly as a low-level binary format designed to be a suitable compilation target for languages such as C++. “The WebAssembly code that the browser sees will already have undergone high-level, language-specific optimizations. This is great because it means implementations don’t have to know about how C++ or other languages are optimized,” Barati said.

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GitHub Enterprise users get project management, data access improvements

GitHub has added data access tools and advanced project management to GitHub Enterprise, the on-premises version of the company’s code-sharing platform.

Here are the notable features in GitHub Enterprise 2.10, which can be installed on a user’s own hardware or on a cloud service such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure:

  • The GraphQL API to help developers to build their own tools with greater access to data via the same API used to build GitHub itself. 
  • Project boards give users are provided a history of project activities, including notifications as to which team member was behind each action.
  • For project reviews, a filter prioritizes pull requests, such as a request for items still awaiting review, an approved pull request, or requests that are ready to be merged. Users also can specify who is permitted to dismiss reviews on a protected branch.
  • Version 2.0.0 of Git LFS (Large File Storage), which offers an early version of file locking, to prevent multiple updates at the same time.
  • Administrators can configure API rate limiting, which can prevent overuse of resources, from the management console.
  • To organize repositories, administrators can manually add tags to repositories for search and discovery. Topics can be designated for adding relevant data and group repositories by languages used, project functions, or teams responsible for maintaining a repository.

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Kotlin’s a rising star in language popularity index

Boosted by its ties to Android mobile application development, Kotlin is a rising star in the Tiobe language popularity index.

The statically typed language developed by JetBrains initially for the Java Virtual Machine, reached the top 50 in the index this month for the first time, ranking 43rd, although it has a rating of just 0.346 percent. Still, this places Kotlin ahead of other more-established languages such as Groovy and Erlang. Kotlin was ranked 80th just last month.

Software quality services vendor Tiobe’s index assesses language popularity based on a formula that examines searches in popular search engines such as Google, Wikipedia, Bing, and Yahoo, looking at the number of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors related to a language.

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WebAssembly wins! Google pulls plug on PNaCl

For Google, it is time to ring out the old and ring in the new when it comes to running native code in the browser. To this end, Google is making the WebAssembly portable code format its solution for native code going forward, displacing the company’s Portable Native Client (PNaCl).

PNaCl lacked the desired cross-browser compatibility offered by WebAssembly, the company said. PNaCl support will be removed early next year except in Chrome Apps and Extensions. Google said usage of PNACl is low enough to warrant deprecation and that WebAssembly has a vibrant ecosystem, making it a better fit. “Historically, running native code on the web required a browser plugin. In 2013, we introduced the PNaCl sandbox to provide a means of building safe, portable, high-performance apps without plugins,” Google’s Brad Nelson, software engineer on NaCl, PNaCl, and WebAssembly, said. “Although this worked well in Chrome, it did not provide a solution that worked seamlessly across all browsers.”

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Node.js 8 brings sanity to native module dependencies

Node.js, the popular server-side JavaScript platform, has been upgraded with improvements related to the runtime, buffer security, URL parsing, and preserving dependencies on native modules across major Node.js upgrades.

On the module dependencies front, Node.js 8.0.0, released today by the Node.js Foundation, introduces the Node.js API, or N-API, albeit still behind an experimental flag. The N-API is designed to eliminate the breakage of dependencies on native modules that happens between release lines.

Although native modules are a small portion of the modular ecosystem, 30 percent of all JavaScript modules rely indirectly on native modules, which are written in C or C++ and are bound to the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. “Every time Node.js has a major release update, package maintainers have to update these dependencies,” the foundation said.

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Java 9 delayed due to modularity controversy

Java 9 won’t be released on July 27 after all.

Oracle has proposed that Java 9 Standard Edition be delayed until September so the open source community that is finalizing Java 9 can address the ongoing controversy over a planned but later rejected approach to modularity, said Georges Saab, vice president of software development in the Java platform group at Oracle and chairman of the OpenJDK governing board.

The Java Platform Module System, a key capability of Java Development Kit 9 and the subject of Java Specification Request (JSR) 376, failed in a vote by the Java executive committee earlier this month. IBM, Red Hat, and Twitter, among others, voted against the plan, because they believed it would be too disruptive to developers and would fragment the Java community.

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Amateur web developers can now look to Mavo

Mavo, a tool to turn static HTML into reactive web applications without programming code or a server back end, has just moved to the beta stage. It could be boon for non-programmers looking to get their feet wet in web development.

Built at MIT by a team led by computer scientist Lea Verou, the open source Mavo is an HTML-based language that extends HTML syntax to describe web applications that can manage data, with data stored in the cloud, locally, or not at all. Plugins can be used to modify Mavo’s behavior.

Mavo is similar to Angular 1.x, the since-superseded version of Google’s JavaScript framework. Both have an HTML-based syntax and support expressions. But Angular was never designed with the goal of writing entirely in HTML; it “treats HTML as a shortcut for data binding to views, but everything else is expected to be written in JavaScript,” according to the Mavo team.

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Microsoft brings scalable Git to Visual Studio in improved GVFS

Microsoft has been mapping out plans to improve its Git Virtual File System (GVFS), including linking it to the Visual Studio IDE and getting it supported in third-party Git clients.

GVFS is an attempt to scale the Git software version control system to extremely large projects and teams, virtualizing the .git folder and working directory. In GVFS, only portions of a repo and files are downloaded, providing developers just the portions they need at the time. The software features a server-based back end and a virtualization layer for the client, virtualizing the file system.

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Kubernetes foundation takes on container networking

 (CNCF), which seeks to drive large-scale cloud computing with an emphasis on containers and microservices, has just added the Container Network Interface (CNI) project to its fold.

The project joins others hosted by the nonprofit foundation, including the Kuberrnetes container orchestration platform and CoreDNS DNS server. CNI had been a GitHub open source project. It features a specification and libraries to write plugins for configuring networking interfaces in Linux containers.

The foundation’s adoption of CNI is meant to increase its focus on network connectivity of containers and the removal of allocated sources when the container is deleted. “The idea [is] that CNI is a standard way of being able to use different networking technologies,” said Dan Kohn, the foundation’s executive director.

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Kubernetes foundation takes on container networking

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which seeks to drive large-scale cloud computing with an emphasis on containers and microservices, has just added the Container Network Interface (CNI) project to its fold.

The project joins others hosted by the nonprofit foundation, including the Kuberrnetes container orchestration platform and CoreDNS DNS server. CNI had been a GitHub open source project. It features a specification and libraries to write plugins for configuring networking interfaces in Linux containers.

The foundation’s adoption of CNI is meant to increase its focus on network connectivity of containers and the removal of allocated sources when the container is deleted. “The idea [is] that CNI is a standard way of being able to use different networking technologies,” said Dan Kohn, the foundation’s executive director.

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Microsoft’s P language is aimed at where cloud, AI, and IoT meet

Microsoft is positioning its P language as a solution for asynchrony in a world where this capability is becoming increasingly vital for the cloud, artificial intelligence, and embedded systems.

Geared to asynchronous event-driven programming, the open source P unifies modeling and programming into a single activity. “Today’s software uses cloud resources, is often embedded in devices in the physical world and employs artificial intelligence techniques,” said Shaz Qadeer, a principal researcher at Microsoft. Such applications feature asynchrony, leading to issues with race conditions and “heisenbugs” (named after the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle), which are timing-related bugs that often disappear during an investigation of it. P was was built to address the challenges.

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GitHub sets up a developer tools store, releases GraphQL API

GitHub today unveiled its GitHub Marketplace, a store for developers to purchase development tools. The goal is to help developers find integrations and quickly use them.

For example, GitHub Marketplace supports more than a dozen integrators via a single account and payment method, so developers can worry less about managing accounts. Development apps range from continuous integration to project management and code review, including Travis CI, Appveyor, Waffle, ZenHub, Sentry, and Codacy.

GitHub also rolled out two other tools intended to ease software development: GraphQL API, for data access, and GItHub Apps, for process control.

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Google’s Firebase taps serverless Cloud Functions

Firebase, Google Cloud’s back end and SDK for mobile and web application development, is being enhanced with serverless compute capabilities. Google Cloud Functions for Firebase, now available in a beta release, allows developers to run back-end JavaScript code that responds to events triggered by Firebase features and HTTPS requests.

Developers upload their code to Google’s cloud, and the functions are run in a managed Node.js environment. There is no need for users to manage or scale their own servers. “[Cloud Functions] enables true server-less development,” Google’s Ben Galbraith said. Like AWS Lambda and Microsoft’s Azure Functions, Cloud Functions allows users to deploy and run code without provisioning servers. Developers code to cloud APIs, and the cloud takes care of managing and scaling the functions.

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Oracle has a plan to make Java 9 migration easier

It will be easier to migrate code to the planned Java 9 release, due in late July, if the committee that managed Java approves a proposal just made by Oracle to better accommodate modularity, the key new feature in Java 9. Oracle made the proposal after getting strong opposition to its modularization plans from the Java community

In a proposal floated Thursday, Mark Reinhold, Oracle’s chief Java architect, said strong encapsulation of JDK-internal APIs has caused worries that code that works on JDK 8 will not work on JDK 9 and that no advance warning of this was given in JDK 8. “To help the entire ecosystem migrate to the modular Java platform at a more relaxed pace, I hereby propose to allow illegal reflective access from code on the class path by default in JDK 9, and to disallow it in a future release,” he said.

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Google’s Polymer zeroes in on ES6 compatibility, interoperability

Polymer, Google’s open source JavaScript library for building reusable HTML elements, has graduated to version 2.0, a major revision that improves the data system, interoperability with other web libraries and frameworks, and support for ECMAScript 6 standards. ECMAScript is the official specification underlying JavaScript and implemented in web browsers.

Arriving nearly two years after Polymer 1.0, the 2.0 release complies with HTML custom elements v1, for creating new HTML tags, and shadow DOM v1, for self-contained web components. Developers can now draw on Polymer APIs associated with both specifications. Polymer 2.0 uses standard ECMAScript 6 classes and custom elements v1 methods rather than a Polymer factory method, according to release notes. Developers can mix Polymer features with standard JavaScript, although the factory method is still supported via a compatibility layer. 

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Google endorses Kotlin for Android development

Google’s Java-centric Android mobile development platform is adding the Kotlin language as an officially supported development language, and will include it in the Android Studio 3.0 IDE. Its developers had previously promoted Kotlin for Android development.

The revelation was made Wednesday by Google Program Manager Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson at the Google IO developer conference. This is the first time a new programming language has been added to Android. “It makes developers so much more productive. It is fully Android runtime-compatible, it is fully interoperable with existing code, it has fabulous IDE support,“ she said.

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Oracle’s Java chief debunks ‘misconceptions’ about Java 9

Looking to stave off criticism of the now-jeopardized Java 9 release, Oracle’s top Java official defended the platform against what he termed falsehoods around its accommodations for Apache Maven, third-party frameworks, and existing code.

“There seem to be many misconceptions out in the world about what Java 9 is, what the Jigsaw module system is, how it’s going to impact people,” Reinhold said at the Devoxx UK conference in London last week. Today in an online post, he addressed what he sees as the three biggest misconceptions around Java 9.

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